WPIRG would like to acknowledge that our conference and our work is taking place
on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnawbe, and Haudenosaunee peoples.
We live on stolen indigenous land. For those of us whose ancestors arrived only recently to Turtle Island (North America) - within the last 500 years - it is crucial to recognize this. As settlers on this land, we must respect the peoples who have inhabited these regions since time immemorial. We must also recognize the ways that we benefit from continued forms of colonization, which has for centuries made violent efforts to dispossess indigenous nations of the their lands and cultures. Let us learn and remember their stories of courageous resistance. Let us learn to act in solidarity with those who have struggled, and those who continue to struggle, to retain their ways of life and protect these lands in the face of ongoing colonial violence.
Here at the University of Waterloo, our campus is located on stolen land as well. We are on the Haldimand Tract: Comprising six miles on each side of the Grand River from source to finish, this land was promised to the Mohawks of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy for their role as military allies to the British in the War of 1812, which cost them their traditional territory in present-day New York State. Since then, settler society has encroached onto the Haldimand Tract with deceitful promises, disrespected agreements, and broken treaties. For example, money that was put "in trust" for the Haudenosaunee was instead used to fund further colonial projects, like the Welland Canal and McGill University, while other areas of land were simply taken without pretense or consent. This history of theft and appropriation is well-documented, so we can learn how our cities and schools were built upon stolen land. To this day, promises made by the settler governments of Britain and Canada remain unfulfilled, violated, and/or broken. The many injustices of settler colonialism continue, as does resistance to them. The community of Six Nations of the Grand River, just south of Brantford, continues to maintain their culture, defend their land, and push for settlers to respect their treaty commitments.
Social and environmental injustices that we struggle against are rooted in the dispossession of indigenous lands and the colonization of Turtle Island. Let us acknowledge this history and, from now on, work towards decolonization and new forms of relationships. Let us learn to understand the treaties governing this land, like the Two Row Wampum, and how they continue to be relevant to us today. Let us commit to confronting the white supremacy that evokes racist stereotypes, extreme poverty, and violence. Let us make decolonization a central aspect of any form of radical social change, in theory and action.
Click here for an indepth explanation of land acknowledgments.